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July 10, 2014

I am not a Feminist, But This Needs to Stop. ~ Cedric Douglas Clitheroe

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I am not a Feminist.

I think it’s important we get that clear, because this is really important to me.

Another thing to get clear before I go on: I’m not against feminism either.

I’m just exhausted by the misguided co­-opting of good things by radical people.

Recently, a dear friend of mine (we’ll call her Raywyn) confided something in me. What she told me stung deep at the core of who I am. It bit deep and drew a bit of blood and left me seething with anger.

I am a calm man. I am a laid back person. I don’t get mad. This thing she told me ignited a cold rage in my guts.

The kind of rage that compels a person to make questionable choices. The sort of rage that climbs your spine and makes your ears burn. I felt my jaw clench and my fists clench, locking my arms into knots.

I feel them trying to do that now.

I’ve felt this anger before, and within similar context—this isn’t my first rodeo.

The thing she told me is not new, nor is it rare, and that pisses me off almost as much as the fact that it happens to people I care about.

My friend was molested.

This isn’t the first time either. And no, in case you’re ignorant enough to think she asked for it, earned it, led the molesters on, was somewhere unsafe that she should not have been, or in some other fashion want to excuse their conduct, she was innocent.

She was molested by not one man but four.

Not at night but in broad daylight.

Not in the back streets but on a busy sidewalk.

They surrounded her, shuttled her to the side of the sidewalk, taunted her, groped her and insulted her.

When they were satisfied with what they’d done, they left.

I press my finger tip to my thumb as hard as I can to stop myself from punching a hole through this table. I don’t punch tables.

Even now, days later, despite strong efforts to be peaceful, I have violent thoughts. But eye for an eye won’t fix this. It won’t solve anything. The fact of the matter is, while the act itself is despicable, it’s the society that condones it that makes me feel sick.

My mind is sent into circular tracks that revolve around “what the hell is wrong with this society?”

You see, no one stopped to help. No one intervened, and as far as she can remember, despite nearly blocking the entire incident out of her mind, hardly anyone even looked her way.

The only person that stopped to talk to her waited until after and told her it “wasn’t that bad.” Really? Is this the evolved people we’re so proud to be? Don’t give me that bullshit about it being the “bottom 1 percent.”

Furthermore, some of the feedback she has gotten from people she confided in despite extreme discomfort is astoundingly bad.

One of her female friends, before even checking in to express condolences, asked what she was wearing.

Stick that one on the pile, along with the other victim ­blaming assumptions above.

Victim blaming is one of the most aggravating cop­-outs I’ve ever experienced. Along with excusing the assailants via non­-action, I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth and a lot of skepticism about the health of our society.

To my mind, these things are akin to necrotic poison in a wound, rotting the flesh away while the body is still alive: we can ignore it for a bit, but it isn’t going to just go away.

If we condone this sort of behavior, we are just as guilty. You can bet your left leg I will try to help if I ever see that happening. Which brings me back around to my start.

I am not a feminist for a number of reasons, and you might be unsure of what those are now.

Feminism as a word itself is somewhat misleading for starters.

By the roots it means “women related, focused or driven.” I won’t go so far as to say that term is wrong, but I am more interested in the big picture and less excited to be grouped into a movement that has been co-­opted by radical man­haters and focuses on only one piece of the puzzle.

I am pro-women. I am also pro-man.

I support homosexuals, heterosexuals, blacks, whites and asians. To be honest, I don’t care what you look like, where you’re from or who you like to kiss. We’re all in this boat together, shooting through space like a bullet.

I am not a feminist, I am pro equality.

You don’t fight fire with fire. You don’t use water to stop the flood.

I want Equality. Universal respect. Balance.

No gender, race, or demographic is better. We’re all different, with strengths and weaknesses. We’re all just people. In this world, in this society, we vote with our feet as often as our mouths and our pens.

And I won’t say that it’s not scary.

Opposing the angry, the strong, the violent, the radical might be the scariest thing we ever do, but it’s the right thing to do, and none of us should have to do it alone. Not Raywyn, not me, not anyone.

To borrow a phrase from Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream.

A dream that someday, it won’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, because we’ll all be paying attention to what matters.

We all deserve respect. We all deserve love. We all deserve to feel safe. And we’re all just people. So next time you witness oppression, please take a moment to consider how you want to vote.

 

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Editor Apprentice: Emma Ruffin / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo Credit: Michael Knapek/Flickr

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Cedric Douglas Clitheroe